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Books on Monday: Mothers and Sons

At the top of all the smartest reading lists this season is Colm Tóibín's Mothers and Sons, a collection of short stories that puts the author in a class with Alice Munro (whose latest book, The View From Castle Rock, is also up there on the lists). As a rule, I give Irish fiction a very wide berth, because so much of it is blighted either by the after-effects of colonial misrule or by the provinciality enforced by the Catholic Church. Mr Tóibín's fiction transcends both limitations without ignoring either. As a very gifted gay man, he gives us an Ireland entirely devoid of Lucky Charms, and he beautifully crumples the impression that I got from driving across Ireland with my father in 1977: "All the smart ones left." Not so. (Although, come to think of it, he did spend an awful lot of time in Barcelona.)

Read about Mothers and Sons at Portico.


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